Rockford/Sparta Scores Banner Finish

March 13, 2015

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor 

ROCKFORD – Championship banners line side-by-side an entire wall of the sizable gymnasium at Rockford High School. 

Overlooking center court is a banner for gymnastics championships – and a lonely number 89, signifying the year of the school’s only MHSAA Finals title in the sport.

“My freshman year. … Just looking up at all those, (I was) thinking how cool it would be to have a year I was here be on that banner,” Rockford junior Morgan Korf said. 

“There’s always room for more.”

She’s absolutely right – and she and her teammates did their parts Friday to give 1989 some company. 

Rockford/Sparta broke 37 points in three of four events and finished with a score of 147.975 to edge reigning champion Canton by 1.750 and claim its first MHSAA gymnastics title since winning the Lower Peninsula championship 26 years ago. (The peninsulas competed in separate Finals until 2004.)

The Rams had finished fourth in 2013, but missed the Finals as a team last season. 

They returned as a Regional champion Friday and led reigning champion Canton by 2.450 points heading into the final rotation – with the Chiefs on their strongest apparatus, vault, and Rockford/Sparta on its weakest, uneven parallel bars.

Staying to pre-meet plan, the Rams threw skills they’d tried rarely this season – and scored the meet’s highest bars score, 36.300. Canton scored 37.000 on the vault, enough to cut the deficit but not completely. 

“We just wanted to close it up, and we were all trying to stay confident so we could finish it off and do our best,” Rockford/Sparta junior Madi Myers said. “We were a little bit nervous, but we pulled it off.” 

Myers did a routine she’d fallen on the other time she’d attempted it this winter.  This time, she scored a 9.400, the third highest in the event Friday.  Sophomore Nicole Coughlin completed a bail for the first time, and the addition of that skill helped her put up a 9.200. 

“I’ve seen (Canton) vault multiple times, and I admire their vaults. It was really tight,” Rockford/Sparta coach Allison Tran said.

“My husband Michael Tran is our bars coach, and he’s been working all year on up skills with them. Bars is what really set us apart. Because if we had our average bars score and Canton did really well on vault, it would’ve been a dead heat right there.” 

But this Rockford/Sparta team enjoyed a few advantages coming in.

The Rams finally were healthy. Myers – a Regional Division 1 champion two years ago as a freshman – didn’t compete in the MHSAA Finals the last two seasons because of injuries. Her all-around score of 37.825 Friday was the meet’s third highest. 

Her abilities at the top added to depth that allowed Allison Tran the opportunity to do some maneuvering, especially with Coughlin’s sister Carly, often the team’s third-highest scorer, unable to compete all-around after being injured in the Regional.

Nine gymnasts contributed to the Rams’ score, with Korf scoring 37.800 all-around and Nicole Coughlin 36.575. Junior Ally Case and sophomore Katie Killinger scored 9.250 and 9.200, respectively, on beam, to highlight the many additional contributions. 

“The thing that’s setting our team apart is that we really have depth all the way to number six this year,” Tran said. “So we had to not compete a person who could put up a 9.000. That’s really the difference. Our roster just goes on and on with people that can work into that group.”

Canton coach John Cunningham also had to dig into his talented roster as the Chiefs attempted to add to last season’s first-ever MHSAA Finals title. 

They competed Friday without two of their best, including top 2014 all-around scorer Jocelyn Moraw, who was injured midseason and remains in a boot cast.

Still, Canton scored the second-best to Rockford/Sparta in all four events, and senior Allison Kunz posted the day’s second-highest all-around score, 38.075. 

“We had a good meet, and we needed a great meet to win,” Cunningham said. “My last vault was 9.725, I looked over and said, ‘We can’t win.’ … Because (Rockford/Sparta) really did well. 

“My senior Allison had a great meet, did really well on all four events. Across the board, I was proud of every single girl. … We were where we deserved to be.”

The finish was Canton’s fifth straight among the meet’s top two – the Chiefs previously finished runner-up to Grand Ledge from 2011-13. 

The Comets were perhaps the biggest surprise of Friday’s Final. They advanced as the top fourth-place Regional finisher, and with only two gymnasts with significant experience prior to this winter.

One is junior Rachel Hogan, last season’s Division 1 individual runner-up. She scored a Team Final-best 38.225 all-around score, and two others broke 34 points as the Comets jumped to third in the final standings at 141.750. 

“Way above my expectations,” Grand Ledge coach Duane Haring said. “This team is so young. We put a couple kids out there today; one has four months of experience. She did two events for us. Another one, a year. So the team is so young and so inexperienced; this just blows me away.”

Howell also broke 140 points, at 140.900, to finish fourth and improve from ninth in 2014. 

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Rockford/Sparta’s Madi Myers performs her floor exercise routine Friday, scoring 9.500. (Middle) Canton’s Katie Dickson contributed a 9.125 bars routine, her team’s second best on the apparatus. (Below) Grand Ledge’s Tiana Seville prepares to vault; she scored a 9.300 in the event. (Photos by John Johnson.)

Title IX at 50: Anna Tracey's Story

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

September 20, 2022

Tracey finished her senior gymnastics season this past winter with one of the most successful Finals weekends possible. On Friday, she helped Rockford to its first team championship since 2017. At Saturday’s Individual Finals, Tracey earned the Division 2 title with an all-around score of 36.325.

The Rockford standout previously had helped the Rams to runner-up team gymnastics finishes in 2019 and 2021, and had placed second individually in Division 2 as a junior as well. She also ran cross country and track during her high school career, including at MHSAA Cross Country Finals as both a sophomore and senior. She’s continuing at Michigan State University, where she’s studying human biology with a minor in Spanish.

"I'm really thankful we live in a time where women have the same opportunities to compete in athletics, because sports has shaped me into the person I am today – a competitive, driven and disciplined person. The lessons I've learned from competing are irreplaceable, and I just couldn't imagine who I'd be without sports present in my life. The lessons I've learned and the characteristics I've developed played a huge role in my daily life and will continue to play a role in the future with whatever obstacles come my way.

"And I think the opportunity to compete as a female athletes is more than just winning medals and trophies. To me it's more the opportunity to learn valuable lessons and shape yourself into the person you want to be."

Second Half's weekly Title IX Celebration posts are sponsored by Michigan Army National Guard.

Previous Title IX at 50 Spotlights

Sept. 13: Lola Korpi's Story - Read
Sept. 6:
Meah Bajt's Story - Read
Aug. 30: 
Morgan Brunner's Story - Read
Aug. 23:
Ava Brizard's Story - Read
Aug. 16:
Paige Miller's Story - Read
Aug. 9:
Gracie Olsen's Story - Read
Aug. 2:
Maddy Stern's Story - Read
July 26:
Reese Miller's Story - Read
July 19:
Macy Irelan's Story - Read
July 12:
Bridget Boczar's Story - Read
July 5:
Ella Boose's Story - Read
June 28:
Kaila Jackson's Story - Read
June 23: 
We Celebrate Our Past, We Look Forward to Our Future - Read
June 21: Assistant Directors Have Been Difference Makers - Read
June 14: 
Girls Lacrosse Finals Officials Set Empowering Example - Read
June 7: 
From Gymnastics to Wrestling, Girls Opportunities Continue to Grow - Read
May 31: 
Mumford Sprinter's Magnificent 2006 Final Remains Unmatched - Read

May 24: Scane, Whiteside Alone on 400-Goal, 500-Point Girls Lacrosse Lists - Read
May 17: Over 8 Days in 1988, Pair of Champs Set No. 1 Singles Standard - Read
May 10: 
Portage Central's Tarpley Scores as State's Superstar, U.S. Soccer Hero - Read
May 3: 
Prychitko 'Legend In Her Own Time,' Legend for All Time - Read
April 26: 
Braddock vs. Verdun Still Striding Among All-Time Sprint Matchups - Read
April 19: 
Holmes' Strikeout Record Rarely Approached, May Be Unbreakable - Read
April 12: 
Anticipation High as 45,000 Girls Return to Spring Sports - Read
April 5: 
Regina's Laffey Retiring as Definition of Legendary - Read
March 29: 
Edison's Whitehorn named 2022 Miss Basketball - Read
March 22: 
Carney-Nadeau Sets Girls Hoops Standard with 78-Win Streak - Read
March 15: 
Binder Among Voices Telling Our Story on MHSAA Network - Read
March 8: 
28 Years, Thousands of Cheers - Read
March 1: 
Kearsley Rolls On Among Girls Bowling's Early Successes - Read
Feb. 22: Marquette Ties Record for Swim & Dive Finals Success - Read
Feb. 15: Jaeger's 2004 Winter Run Created Lasting Connection - Read
Feb. 8: Marian's Cicerone to Finish Among All-Time Elite - Read
Feb. 1: WISL Award Honors Builders of State's Girls Sports Tradition - Read
Jan. 25: Decades Later, Edwards' Legend Continues to Grow - Read
Jan. 18: Iron Mountain Completes Championship Climb - Read
Jan. 11: Harrold's Achievement Heralds Growth of Girls Wrestling - Read
Dec. 20: Competitive Cheer Gives Michigan Plenty to Cheer About - Read
Dec. 14: 
Evelyn's Game Had Plenty of Magic - Read
Dec. 7: 
Council Term Ends, But Leinaar Leaves Lasting Impact - Read
Nov. 30: 
Basketball Season Ready to Add to Rich Tradition - Read
Nov. 23: 
Marysville Builds Winning Streak Yet to be Challenged - Read
Nov. 16: Wroubel Has Championed Girls School Sports from Their Start - Read
Nov. 9: Pioneer's Joyce Legendary in Michigan, National Swim History - Read
Nov. 2: Royal Oak's Finch Leading Way on Football Field - Read
Oct. 26: Coach Clegg Sets Championship Standard at Grand Blanc - Read
Oct. 19: Rockford Girls Set Pace, Hundreds After Have Continued to Chase - Read
Oct. 12: 
Bedford Volleyball Pioneer Continues Blazing Record-Setting Trail - Read
Oct. 5: 
Warner Paved Way to Legend Status with Record Rounds - Read
Sept. 28: Taylor Kennedy Gymnasts Earn Fame as 1st Champions - Read
Sept. 21: 
Portage Northern Star Byington Becomes Play-by-Play Pioneer - Read
Sept. 14: 
Guerra/Groat Legacy Continues to Serve St. Philip Well - Read
Sept. 7: 
Best-Ever Conversation Must Include Leland's Glass - Read
Aug. 31: We Will Celebrate Many Who Paved the Way - Read